Ken Pauly, coach of defending state Class 2A champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s, recently was asked if he intended to keep his irrepressible forward line of Grant Besse, Dan Labosky and T.J. Moore together for the coming season.
Pauly’s look said it all.
But of course.
Study all the angles, and it’s hard to see the upside in splitting up one of the state’s great all-time trio of forwards.
All Besse did last season was score all of the Red Knights’ goals in their 5-1 rout of Hill-Murray in the state title game.
All Moore did this fall was lead the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League in scoring.
All Labosky did on Saturday was score two goals and assist on another as Minnesota Red beat Minnesota White 4-2 in the semifinals of the Bauer National Invitational Tournament at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Labosky, the first of the three to commit to a Division I program last winter when he selected Colorado College (Besse chose Wisconsin a few weeks later), had become something of a forgotten man as of late.
Besse fractured his leg early in the Elite League season and hasn’t played since, ensuring he will be at full strength for the start of the high school season in late November. That allowed Moore, who has yet to choose his college, to grab the spotlight with his scoring exploits.
Moore scored for Minnesota White on Saturday, but Labosky inflicted the heavier damage, showing a high degree of chemistry with linemates Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville and T.J. Roo of Totino-Grace.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” said Labosky, who scored a tap-in goal in the second on a nifty feed from Roo and capped the scoring late in the third period on a missile into the upper corner. “It was a great time.”
Labosky’s feisty side also made an appearance, as he took a hooking penalty in the second period.
“There are so many (scouts) in the stands, you just want to play well,” Labosky said. “The bigger the game, you just have to play better. And you are trying to win it for your teammates, too.”
Labosky and Moore, who grew up playing youth hockey together in Edina, have been buddies since their Mite days. Among the clusters of players from the two teams chatting it up on the ice after the game were Labosky, Moore and Benilde-St. Margaret’s forward Spencer Naas.
They were busy replaying the game, then fast-forwarding to how they would spend the afternoon.
“We were kind of talking about the game,” Labosky said. “(Moore) had a good shot for a goal. We’ll be hanging out after the game, watching college football today.”
Labosky and Moore have proven this fall that they do not require the security blanket that is playing alongside lifelong buddies. Highly skilled ones, at that.
“Roo and Sheehy are unbelievable players,” Labosky said. “Roo fed me the one on the back door. That was a great play. That was probably the easiest goal I’ve ever scored.
“Sheehy had a great goal, too.”